Wednesday, October 06, 2004

(17-3) The President's Message by Vera Zimmerman

What's your hurricane preparedness procedure? Besides stocking up on Flashlight batteries and canned food, don't forget to find a safe place for your genealogical data. I always mail a GEDCOM and a backup disk to one of my cousins at the beginning of the hurricane season. This year I put disks in double zip lock bags in the freezer as well. I have a "hurricane closet" full of nothing but photos. I shudder to think about all those precious old photos being lost after having survived for over a hundred years. Another good reason to get those photos copied and share them with relatives. Speaking of photos the five latest additions to my photo collection are three daguerreotypes and two tintypes. They were found while cleaning out a file cabinet at my father-in-law's farm in Oklahoma. They were in the bottom of a file drawer underneath file folders of old financial records. The tintypes had masking tape labels on the back identifying the subjects, but there was no ID on the daguerreotypes. When I took them apart to clean and photograph I found that two of them had name and date written in pencil on the wooden case behind the copper plate. They were my husbands great-great-grandparents, Luther Wood and his wife Sarah Allen Wood of Massachusetts. What a thrill! I photographed them using a copy stand with my 35 mm SLR camera and multiplier lenses and then scanned them to send via email. When the prints, negatives and CDs came back from the developer, it was obvious that the photos were much better than the scans. The 45 degree angle of the lights on the copy stand, as opposed to direct light of the flat bed scanner, are better for copying daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes. The photographic copies are even better than the originals.

This is the real MESSage. My yard is a mess, my house is a mess, my brain is a mess. Four hurricanes in less than two months have left a lot of us in a mess. We were fortunate that we did not have any major structural damage to the house and that the Indian River stopped just about two inches short of coming in our back door. We did have to endure weeks without power and telephone and (Gasp!) computer access!

To those of you who also escaped damage, write this off as a major learning experience. Remember to share your data with all those cousins (preferably a cousin or two in Nebraska!). If your information is destroyed by hurricane, flood or tornado, you'll be able to recover what you have shared. To those of you who did have damage, you have my sympathy. If there is anything we can share to help make your recovery easier, let us know.

I discovered an important fact during the time I lived in a dark boarded up house. I would not have made a good cave woman. I can't think in the dark. Did you ever try to pack by flashlight? Fortunately I already had airline tickets out and I spent the time from one week after Frances through one week after Jeanne in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. My husband and son evacuated via RV to Jackson, Mississippi. Another important discovery I made when we returned two days ago. I did such a good job of packing stuff up in plastic in case of a tree-through-the-roof deluge and/or rising water that I can't find anything. We're not unpacking though. We still have six weeks of hurricane season left. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving.

On a sad note, when I got back online today I learned that dear Jean Snyder had passed away while I was gone. She was a wonderful person and an asset to our society. We owe her a debt of gratitude for her many years of work in BGS, especially her knowledge and expertise in organizing and improving our library collection. Our deepest sympathy to her family at this sad time. We will miss you, Jean.

Vera Zimmerman
October 5, 2004


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